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Emu Review

ENTTEC Emu review

After purchasing ENTTEC Emu lighting software for a month to try out, I was really excited to see some of the features on offer and particularly liking the full-screen layout. I have been using DMXIS for several years and found it to be rock solid, especially when using DMXIS along with Cubase and a visualiser to program my light shows - this combination has never faltered.

So why try Emu then I hear you ask?  Well, I was led to believe that Emu was the ‘next step’ taking all the features of DMXIS and then some.

After installing Emu on a MacBook to look at the features on offer, it froze a few times causing me to have to reboot my MacBook pro. Saving some settings also caused a few issues and I lost some work/settings. The ‘update’ to the beta version seemed to have cured a few of these problems (or so I thought).

I also installed Emu on my Studio PC as this is the main computer I use that runs Cubase and the one I use to program my light show, I usually program my lights when working on the clicks etc.

With my DAW (Cubase), DMXIS is installed as a VST instrument and is consequently rock solid when used in Cubase. Emu unfortunately is not installed as a VST so you unfortunately need to find third party software to run it with  whatever DAW you use, and this is where your problems begin.

There are very few third-party MIDI programs available to help you however, one ‘IPMIDI’ is probably the most stable but will cost you £65 sterling. Unfortunately, having bought this I found out to my dismay that Emu becomes very unstable and erratic and will crash/freeze. I also tried this out on the MacBook and encountered the same results using the inbuilt IAC drivers (these drivers are solid with most everything else. Unfortunately, Emu was unusable on both PC and Mac and consequently programming a light show became a stressful and uncreative task when working with Emu and a DAW.

There are some great features in Emu, I found programming a show very intuitive and easy though saving sometimes became an issue occasionally causing a crash. And the added problem of connecting to your DAW to add the MIDI notes for the Bank and presets…

The Art-net with Emu worked amazingly well with my Visualisation software and not having to connect to the hardware was a bonus.

The support for Emu is really good, however not available at weekends so if you have a problem at a gig, you are on your own but I guess you can’t expect folk to work around the clock.

The Licensing system for Emu is frankly a joke. You even need to go on-line to activate your licence Off-Line.

I was at a gig with no internet access on my lighting computer and so could not activate Emu as I wanted to give it a little test live (pre-gig) but this thanks to the silly licensing did not happen.

When I returned home, I noticed the online page said Not Activated indicating that none of my installs - Mac, Studio PC and live PC were activated however, further investigation showed that BOTH the Studio PC and the MacBook Emu’s were Activated so there’s obviously an issue with licensing.



I really wanted Emu to work but unfortunately it is far from stable, it crashes way too much to justify charging a customer a monthly or annual fee. I only did with Emu what I do with DMXIS and no more - It’s just not working or is even ready to be considered good lighting software. I have spoken to quite a few folk who have tried Emu and unfortunately like me, all have had negative experiences in its use and many say they would not risk using it live…I did try but ended up using DMXIS.

If you need lighting software that will not let you down, is reliable when connecting to a DAW etc.. Then look at DMXIS – its now discontinued but you should still be able to get your hands on a copy…If you are already a DMXIS user like me then stick with it or look at Show Buddy Active, Emu is not for you, it just doesn’t work I’m afraid.

Hopefully if ENTTEC sort out these issues it could be great software, but the fact that they are charging a fee for something that is quite frankly unusable, unstable and just feels unfinished,  is very brave thing to do as they are not doing themselves any favours.


Andy Power



1 Comment

As your perfectly said - support is really good. So why not resolve the issues you've faced with the support?.. BTW, I know that even on weekends support helps.

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